Agent of Fire, Agent of Blood: The Will of the Father and the Ministry of the Priest

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses nine through eighteen of the tenth chapter. When we come to this particular portion of scripture we actually find the author of the epistle writing unto the Hebrews concerning the superiority of Jesus Christ and the work which He performed. What is so incredibly my powerful is that not only does the author of this epistle wrote concerning the work which Jesus performed here on the earth—that which is tangible, visible and obvious; but also a deeper work. When you read the words which the author wrote in this epistle you will find them writing of a work that was much deeper, and a work that took place—not in the natural and physical realm, but in the realm of the eternal. The author of the epistle has spent a considerable amount of time, effort and energy writing concerning the superiority and supremacy of Christ in this epistle, and the author has now transitioned to writing concerning the supremacy of the work of Jesus Christ—not merely as the Sacrifice, and not only as the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world, but also of His work as great high priest. I am utterly and completely convinced that the reality of Jesus as the great high priest is perhaps the greatest distinguishing mark and title this author writes and includes in the epistle. We would be incredibly remiss to read the epistle and not pay close attention to the tremendous work and ministry which Christ performs as priest of the most high God—a work which began while on the earth with the sacrifice and offering, and a work which would transition and pass from earth to the heavens where He would enter into the Holiest of all to make atonement for the sins of humanity. When we consider the high priestly ministry of Jesus we must recognize and understand it as beginning here on the earth, but a work which would pass beyond the earth and unto the heavens.

I absolutely love the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, for this epistle was written based and built upon that which was written and found in the Old Testament. What’s more, is that the author uses their extensive and exhaustive knowledge of the Hebrew Scripture, as well as the ministry of the tabernacle of Moses to paint a powerful portrait and picture concerning the various shadows and types which all pointed to the beauty that is found in the person, the work and ministry of Jesus Christ. The more I read the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews the more I am wonderfully and powerfully convinced that what we read and what we find is a powerful treatise and a powerful dissertation concerning just how vastly supreme and how vastly better Jesus Christ truly is. What’s more, is that when we read the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews we find the author writing of a powerful ministry which Jesus Christ performed as great high priest of the most high God. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to consider this work which began here on this earth two thousand years ago, and would continue on in the heavenly realms. In other words, it wasn’t enough for the work to begin and to remain here in the earth and not also pass unto the heavens. For the author, this work, and thus ministry or Jesus Christ as high priest was initiated through and by His sacrifice, which would make atonement for the sins of humanity, but would continue and transcend the realm of time and space, and transition into the heavenly realm. How absolutely glorious it is to read the words which this author wrote concerning Jesus Christ as the sacrifice of the most high God, and then as priest of the same God, the author would take the blood—His own blood—and just as the high priest under the Old covenant would enter unto the Hokiest or all once a year, would bring that blood into the holiest of all in heaven. Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice He took the blood of that sacrifice—the blood of His own sacrifice—and present it in the tabernacle made without human hands in order that He might once and for all accomplish and fulfill what the priests and high priests in the Old covenant could not accomplish through all of the sacrifices and offerings they made.

The more we dive and delve into the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews the more we are immersed in the reality that Jesus Christ became the sacrifice here on the earth, but when and as Ge entered into the heavenly realms, and passed unto the Holiest of all, He transition from and transcended beyond the sacrifice to the priest and minister of the sacrifice. I have previously written concerning the sacrifice being and becoming the priest, and this reality is actually quite remarkable and astonishing when you truly take the time to think about it. In the Old Testament and under the Old covenant the blood that was shed was always the blood of bulls, and lambs, and goats, and was never the blood of any of the priests. Under the Old covenant there was no priest who could shed their blood and sacrifice themselves to make atonement—not only for their sins, but also for the sins of the people. Under the Old covenant it was always the blood of bulls, and lambs, and goats which the priests worked with before, around and upon the altar. I continue to believe that the work and ministry of priests if the most high God was not a neat, and tidy, and clean ministry, but rather, it was one that was altogether messy. Pause for a moment and consider the reality that the priests had to completely dismember the sacrifice once it was dead, and they then had to drain the blood at the altar, and wash the various parts of the sacrifice before presenting and offering it with fire. I can’t help but see the altar as a place where the sand, the dirt and the ground all around the altar was stained with and by the blood of the sacrifices. Similarly, I can’t help but think that the place where Jesus Christ was sacrificed—Golgotha and Calvary—was also stained with and by the blood of a different sacrifice. When we consider the realm of sacrifice and offering, we must recognize and understand that it is not a clean and neat ministry and work, but rather is one that is altogether messy and dirty. Day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year the priests continued to minister around the altar as agents of the blood, and agents of fire. AGENTS OF BLOOD, AGENTS OF FIRE.

The priests who ministered the sacrifices and offerings under the Old Covenant were priests who ministered before the fire and with the blood of the sacrifice, and it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the priests as ministers of the blood, as well as agents of fire, for they were responsible for ensuring the sacrifice was holy and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. When we consider the reality of the sacrifices and offerings which were brought unto the door of the tabernacle by the children of Israel, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and consider that the sacrifices themselves were to be of a particular breed and a particular caliber, for the Lord would not and could not accept just any sacrifice. Lest you consider for one moment this is not at all true, I would present you—first with the words which the Lord spoke unto Moses from the tabernacle of congregation, and second with the words which the Lord spoke through His servant, the prophet Malachi. Consider first if you will the words which are recorded in the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Leviticus, and then the words which are found and recorded in the Old Testament prophetic book of Malachi. I would also add the words which are found in the first chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah, as well as the words which are found in the prophetic book of Micah:

“And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into his pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the al tar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the a ltar: but his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. Andif his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish. And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar. And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priests shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: but he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, and offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off its head, and bunt it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar: and he shall pluck away his crop with his fathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes: and he shall c leave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord” (Leviticus 1:1-17).

“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: If then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? Saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the Lord of hosts. And now, I pray you, beseech God that He will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? Saith the Lord of hosts. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! And ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? Saith the Lord. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and bloweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” (Malachi 1:5-14).

“Hear the word of the Lord ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the comment meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:10-15).

“Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to lover mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:6-8).

It is clear from reading the words contained within these various passages that the sacrifice and offering which was to be presented unto the Lord had two different realms which were connected to it. In the first realm that which was brought unto the living God at the door of the tabernacle was to be without blemish, and was not to be second rate or second best. When you read the words which the Lord spoke unto Moses from the tabernacle of the congregation, you will find that when any of the children of Israel brought unto the Lord a living sacrifice, that sacrifice was to be taken from their flocks and from their herds, and was to be without blemish and without defect. In this first realm, it was up to the individual Israelite to ensure that that which was brought unto the Lord was holy and acceptable being without blemish, without defect, and without fault before the Lord. In the second realm, however, the sacrifice being holy and acceptable was not based on that which the individual Israelite would do, but rather that which the priests themselves would do. The priests were responsible for placing their hands upon the heads of the sacrifice and killing it—perhaps still in the presence of the one who brought the sacrifice in the first place—at the door of the tabernacle. The priest was then to cut the sacrifice and offering in its individual pieces and wash the inwards and the legs in water. What’s more, is that the blood of the sacrifice, and the blood of the offering needed to be drained at the base of the altar before the sacrifice and offering could be presented upon the altar. With the sacrifice now dead, and the blood drained at the base of the altar, and the individual parts of the sacrifice being washed with water, the priest would arrange the sacrifice upon the altar in the midst of the fire as an offering made of fire, which was a sweet smelling savour unto the Lord. In this second realm, the responsibility transitions beyond the individual Israelite and to the actual priest and priests who ministered before and around the altar with the blood and the fire. The first realm and the first phase of holiness pertained to the individual Israelite which brought the sacrifice unto the Tabernacle from among their herds and flocks, and the second realm and second phrase of holiness unto the Lord pertained to what the priest did with the sacrifice once it was in his possession and care. The priests could not offer that which was blind, maimed, and lame upon the altar, and it might even be said that the priests were responsible for inspecting the individual offerings and sacrifices which were presented unto the living God there at the tabernacle.

I can’t help but consider this realm of the sacrifice being holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God, for in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the church which was at Rome, we find the following words written concerning us as the saints of God: “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the rewinding of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:1-3). When speaking about sacrifice and offering is it absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this realm of holy and acceptable, for unless that which is presented unto the Lord is holy and acceptable in His sight, it cannot and will not be pleasing, nor will it be accepted in His sight. This reality must be carefully understood when we consider the sacrifice of Jesus, for it not only touches the realm of Jesus as the sacrifice and Lamb of God, but also the realm of Jesus as the priest of the most high God. To present this reality even further it is absolutely necessary that I bring you face to face with two distinct passages found within Scripture—the first which is found in the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel, and the second which is the fifty-first chapter of the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms. Consider if you will the following two passages found within the Old Testament:

“And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which would have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Samuel 15:20-23).

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then I will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirests not sacrifice; else I would give it. Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:7-17).

When we read the words found within these two Old Testament passages we discover and uncover the tremendous reality that directly connected with sacrifice and offering is obedience and faithfulness to the Lord. It would be very easy to get caught up in the reality of sacrifice and offering and completely miss and lose sight of the fact that the Lord delights more in sacrifice and offering than He does in obedience and faithfulness before Him. In all reality, this is what we find as being so incredibly intriguing within the first chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah, for the Lord could not and would not be pleased with the sacrifices which the children of Israel brought unto Him because of their disobedience, their transgression, their sin, their rebellion, and hands that were filled and stained with blood. When we consider this realm of sacrifice and offerings we must understand that on the one hand it does touch the nature of the sacrifice and offering itself, for the sacrifice must be without blemish and without defect, but on the other hand it also touches the realm of obedience and faithfulness before the Lord. The Lord expects sacrifices and offerings to be brought before and brought unto Him, but that which He delights in more than sacrifice and offering is a willing heart that is obedient, humble and faithful toward Him. The children of Israel could bring all the sacrifices and offerings they wanted unto the Lord, and while the offering itself could be an offering made of fire, and a sweet smelling savour unto the Lord, that which the Lord desired more than sacrifice and offerings was obedience and faithfulness. We dare not miss or lose sight of this reality, for this touches the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God, as well as the ministry of Jesus as the high priest. We cannot, we dare not, we must not lose sight of the fact that what allowed His sacrifice to be holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God was not merely the fact that He willingly and voluntarily offered his body and His life as a sacrifice, but also that He was obedient unto death, and desired to do the will of the Lord. Consider if you will—first the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian congregation, and next what the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote in this tenth chapter:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath. Highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

“Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which cane never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my always into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering of sin” (Hebrews 10:5-18).

This concept of obedience and faithfulness, and a desire to not only delight in, but also to do the will of God must be carefully considered and understood—not only as it pertains to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, but also as it pertains to the ministry of Jesus Christ as the great high priest. On the one hand Jesus Christ needed to be without blemish, without spot, without wrinkle, and without defect, and needed to know no sin, in order that He might be able to be acceptable in the sight of the Lord. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifth chapter of the second epistle which was written unto the Corinthian congregation: “For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). It was absolutely imperative that as a man Jesus was without sin, for the author of the epistle to the Hebrews goes on to write concerning Jesus: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16). Here again we find the reality of Christ being without sin and knowing no sin as being directly linked and connected to His role as high priest. Thus, we can conclude that his being without sin and without spot or wrinkle not only directly impacted His ability to be the sacrifice that would make atonement for the sins of man, but it also directly impacted his ability to stand and serve as high priest of the most high God. It was precisely because Jesus was without sin that the sacrifice and offering of His life could be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the living God, and it was precisely because Jesus was without sin that He could stand and faithfully minister as priest of the most high God. This is what is so absolutely incredible about what we find in the tenth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews, for not only do we read of Jesus Christ being without blemish, without spot, without wrinkle, and without sin, but we also find Him desiring to do the will of the Father. I am utterly and completely convinced that it was this desire and delight to do the will of the Father that allowed Jesus to stand and minister as the faithful high priests of the most high God in the holy sanctuary—in the temple made without human hands. What’s more, is that when you read the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote unto them, you will find that it was precisely because of this desire to do the will of the Father that not only allowed Jesus to faithfully minister the sacrifice and take the blood of the sacrifices into the heavenly realm, but also to sit down at the right hand of the most high God. Consider in the twelfth verse of the tenth chapter how the author writes “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool” (Hebrews 10:12). This reality is also found in the third verse of the first chapter of this same epistle: “who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when he had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

The New Testament is replete with examples of Jesus Christ sitting down at the right hand of the Father in heaven, however, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that Jesus could not and would not be seated at the right hand of the Father until the work for which He had been sent was completed. Jesus could not sit down at the right hand of the Father and truly wait and expect His enemies to be made His footstool unless He had faithfully carried out and performed the will of the Lord. What we must recognize is that before Jesus Christ could sit down, He first needed to be crucified upon the cross atop Golgotha, needed to be buried in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, needed to be raised from death to life from the grace, and needed to ascend unto the right hand of His Father which was in heaven. There could be no sitting down, nor any being seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven until and unless death, burial and resurrection had first been completed. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this reality, for it is possible to sit down before the appointed time. It is possible that we sit down before the work is finished and completed, and to allow the work to go unfinished in the sight of the living God. When Jesus Christ declared from the cross, saying, “It is finished,” the work for which He had been sent had been officially and completely accomplished and finished within the earth—the work of sacrifice and atonement. The words which the author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews was actually taken and quoted from the Old Testament book of Psalms, and specifically in the one-hundred and tenth chapter: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauty of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through the kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, He shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head” (Psalm 11O:1-7). It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this reality and concept of Jesus Christ being seated at the right hand of the Father, and only being seated there after performing and completing the will of God. What’s more, is that the only way it is possible for us as the saints of God to be seated in heavenly places is if Christ was already there, and if we are seated with Him. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand in the midst of all of this, it’s the tremendous emphasis on both a desire to do and a delight in the will of God, for Christ could only sit down after He had fulfilled, completed and performed the will of the Father who is in heaven.

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